Stovetop Chicken Tagine (With Lemon and Tomato Substitute Options)

Make this perfectly spiced chicken tagine stew with traditional lemon juice and tomatoes or with my suggested substitute ingredients. Using chicken thighs, legs, or breasts, its combination of spices is something you will surely enjoy. This is an African recipe usually made in a tagine (the stoneware that is used to cook this delicious stew). Instead, you can use a skillet or Dutch oven. Add or omit dried fruit or even vegetables. Make it your own! I provide several suggestions.

Stovetop Chicken Tagine (With Lemon and Tomato Substitute Options)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 6 - 9 servings

Stovetop Chicken Tagine (With Lemon and Tomato Substitute Options)


    For the Spice Mix:
  • 3-1/2¬†tablespoons paprika
  • 1¬†teaspoon¬†garlic powder
  • 2¬†teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3¬†tablespoons¬†ground coriander
  • 1¬†tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1¬†tablespoon¬†ginger powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons¬†ground cardamom
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
  • For the Tagine Chicken:
  • 3 pounds¬†chicken thighs and/or legs (*see Tips section for breasts)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Spice mix 2 tablespoons to all of it (above)
  • Neutral-flavored oil, for frying (I used a mixture of olive and avocado oils)
  • 6 ounces canned tomatoes, cut into pieces (or 3¬†Roma tomatoes blanched for 1 minute in boiling water with skins and seeds removed, cut into quarter sections)
  • 1¬†head¬†cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 1-1/2 medium-size yellow¬†onions, chopped
  • 6¬†cloves¬†garlic, grated or minced
  • 1¬†tablespoon grated fresh¬†ginger
  • 1¬†pinch¬†saffron (optional due to expense)
  • 1¬†tablespoon¬†tomato paste
  • 3¬†cups gluten-free chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium (I used water + 1-1/2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Organic** Chicken Base)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar + 1/8 tsp. stevia or 1 tsp. sugar)
  • 1¬†cup pitted gluten free*** prunes (or dried apricots)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca flour/starch, for thickening
  • 3 tablespoons water, for thickening
  • Flat leaf parsley or cilantro, for garnish¬†(optional)
  • Sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine the spice mix and set aside.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Dredge both sides of the chicken in the spice mix.
  4. Place in a preheated, oiled skillet and weigh the chicken down with a heavy skillet or steak weight and brown for 2 - 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  6. Add the onion and bell pepper, if using as a vegetable or as a substitute for tomatoes. Saute on low heat for 7 minutes or until tender.
  7. Add garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add saffron, if using, tomato paste, chicken broth, lemon juice, lemons, and dried fruit. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  9. Mix together the cornstarch and water. Increase heat to high and pour the cornstarch mixture/slurry into the sauce.
  10. If desired, use a handheld blender to puree the sauce within a deep heat-proof bowl or pot.
  11. Serve with plain rice, rice cooked in chicken broth, gluten free pasta, gluten free polenta (Sam Mills), or gluten free corn grits.
  12. Garnish with parsley and or almonds, if desired.
  13. Chicken Breast for Two:
  14. See the below photo of my tomato and lemon-free version served over polenta. I pounded out two 1/2 pound each chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thickness. I used the following dry rub/spice mix:
  15. 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  16. 1 teaspoons cinnamon (much more in this recipe)
  17. 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  18. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  19. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  20. Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  21. I omitted the cardamon and cloves; omitted the tomatoes, but instead added a sliced red bell pepper with the onions and used vinegar and stevia instead of sugar; and threw in some leftover green beans; absolutely delicious!


Feel free to substitute some chicken for vegetables like cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, or green beans that have been slightly precooked in boiling water or steamed, which you may add to the sauce.

*If using chicken breasts, place breasts one at a time between two sheets of plastic wrap, using a mallet or the bottom of a sturdy glass, pound the chicken until it is uniform in thickness, about 1/2-inch thick.

**The organic version of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base is gluten free.

***Once in awhile, you'll find a company that uses flour to keep dried fruit from sticking. So, be sure to read labels carefully for the "contains wheat" warning. As an alternative to dried fruit, add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon stevia, or additional cinnamon. All three will sweeten the sauce.

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